February 24, 2024

By Taylor Nicioli | CNN

Groundbreaking aviator Amelia Earhart’s tragic and mysterious disappearance whereas flying over the Pacific Ocean has captivated the world for almost 87 years, spurring on numerous investigations and expeditions for solutions on what occurred to the beloved pilot.

The latest group to hitch the search — a workforce of underwater archaeologists and marine robotics consultants with Deep Sea Imaginative and prescient, an ocean exploration firm primarily based in Charleston, South Carolina — says it could have discovered a clue that might deliver some closure to Earhart’s story.

Through the use of sonar imaging, a instrument for mapping the ocean flooring that makes use of sound waves to measure the gap from the seabed to the floor, the group has noticed an anomaly within the Pacific Ocean — greater than 16,000 toes (4,877 meters) underwater — that resembles a small plane. The workforce believes that anomaly could possibly be a Lockheed 10-E Electra, the 10-passenger airplane that Earhart was piloting when she went lacking whereas making an attempt to fly world wide.

Deep Sea Imaginative and prescient introduced the discover by means of an Instagram put up on Saturday, January 27.

“Some individuals name it one of many best mysteries of all time, I believe it really is the best thriller of all time,” mentioned the corporate’s CEO Tony Romeo, a pilot and former US Air Pressure intelligence officer. “We’ve a possibility to deliver closure to one of many best American tales ever.”

Fixing an underwater thriller

The imagery was taken roughly 100 miles away (161 kilometers) from Howland Island, Romeo mentioned, the subsequent spot the place Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan had been anticipated to land following their final takeoff from Lae, Papua New Guinea. The pair was declared misplaced at sea after an intensive 16-day search carried out by the US authorities.

Deep Sea Imaginative and prescient scanned greater than 5,200 sq. miles (13,468 sq. kilometers) of the ocean flooring utilizing a sophisticated autonomous underwater car (AUV) often called Hugin 6000, which maps the seabed utilizing sonar expertise. The corporate’s expedition started in early September 2023 and resulted in December, Romeo instructed CNN.

Romeo hopes to return to the location inside the 12 months to get additional affirmation that the anomaly is a airplane, which might almost definitely contain using an ROV (remotely operated car) with a digicam that will permit the item to be investigated extra intently. The workforce would additionally look into the opportunity of bringing their discover to the floor, Romeo mentioned.

“Whereas it’s attainable that this could possibly be a airplane and perhaps even Amelia’s airplane, it’s too untimely to say that definitively. It is also noise within the sonar knowledge, one thing geologic, or another airplane,” mentioned Andrew Pietruszka, an underwater archaeologist at Scripps Establishment of Oceanography on the College of California, San Diego, and the lead archaeologist for Undertaking Recuperate, a company devoted to discovering MIA troopers and aircrafts from World Conflict II.

“That being mentioned, if I used to be trying to find Amelia’s airplane and had this goal within the knowledge set I’d need to interrogate it additional,” Pietruszka mentioned in an e-mail.

Extra theories on Earhart’s disappearance

A 2017 Historical past Channel documentary proposed a concept that Earhart and Noonan had crashed within the Marshall Islands — about 1,000 miles (1,609 kilometers) away from Howland Island — the place they had been captured and brought to Saipan Island, held hostage and finally died. The idea was primarily based off a photograph from the US Nationwide Archives that featured a number of blurry figures; investigators claimed the aviator and her airplane had been within the picture.

The Worldwide Group for Historic Plane Restoration, or TIGHAR, theorized in 2016 that Earhart and Noonan survived a tough touchdown on a reef within the Pacific Ocean however later died as castaways when the pair couldn’t radio for assist. The TIGHAR workforce claimed {that a} skeleton of a castaway discovered on the island of Nikumaroro, Kiribati, in 1940 had matched with “Earhart’s peak and ethnic origin.”

Essentially the most extensively believed concept, held by the US authorities and the Smithsonian, is that Earhart and Noonan crashed into the Pacific Ocean close to Howland Island when the airplane ran out of gas.

The brand new sonar picture of the proposed lacking plane is of specific curiosity due to the anomaly’s proximity to Howland Island, mentioned Dorothy Cochrane, a curator for basic aviation within the aeronautics division of the Smithsonian Nationwide Air and House Museum. In Earhart’s final communications, her radio transmissions progressively acquired stronger as she acquired nearer to Howland Island, indicating that she was nearing the island earlier than she disappeared, Cochrane mentioned.